This is a rare cross-post from this year’s side project, One Year, One Canadian. April is the month I add movies and TV to the list of consumables which must be Canadian.
Now we are getting serious.
Finding Canadian-made household goods has been a challenge, but switching toothpaste and deodorant is, by any standard, pretty much a foamy latte problem. The subsequent months–clothing and investments–have proved interesting distractions more than anything. There’s plenty more to learn in all three categories. However, April is where, to reference a famous American movie, the speeder bike hits the redwood tree.
I love going to the movies. Attending a weekday matinee by myself is one of the sweetest joys of my self-employed life. And I go to a lot of movies. In 2006, I saw 61 films in the cinema.
How many of those were Canadian? None, I’m afraid.
That’s not because I hate Canadian movies. There simply aren’t that many to see in the cinema. At any time in Vancouver, there are zero to one Canadian movies showing in the theatres. Those that are shown are often “good for me”–they’re the granola of movies. I don’t mind these movies, but it’s always an extra effort to go to them.
So, switching to only movies from the Great White North is going to be a sacrifice.
Everything Night in Canada
I don’t actually watch that much television. I’m an ardent Canucks fan, so I see most of their games. I also watch the occasional English soccer game.
After that, though, I download nearly all of my TV. Those shows are either middle-brow dramas like “Dexter” or “True Blood”, or middle-brow comedies like “Community” or “30 Rock”.
Am I loyal to any Canadian television dramas or comedies? Nope. Is that because most Canadian television can’t compare to the best American shows? I’m afraid so.
The saving grace, at least for a few months, is hockey.
In discussing this month, people have been interested in talking about the rules. How will I identify Canadian movies and television? Does Battlestar Galactica qualify because it was shot in Vancouver with a bunch of Canadian actors? Is Juno Canadian because it’s directed by and stars Canadians?
Others bring up the Canadian Content question. Will I just refer to the CRTC’s list of approved programs? I looked into the qualifications for CanCon Television (the CRTC doesn’t oversee movies), and the requirements are pretty byzantine. Here’s the summary provided on their site:
The producer must be Canadian and is responsible for monitoring and making decisions pertaining to the program
The production earns a minimum number of points based on the key creative functions that are performed by Canadians
A minimum percentage of program expenses is paid for services provided by Canadians or Canadian companies
I could go the CanCon route, but there’s actually a simpler criteria. It’s like that old maxim about pornography: we know it when we see it. Danger Bay?Canadian. Battlestar Galactica. Not so much. One Week? Canuck. Juno? Nice try.
That approach may seem overly simple, but I think it’ll work just fine. What do you think? Do I need a more sophisticated approach than “Canadians can spot a Canadian production a mile away”.
A couple of friends are running worthy projects at the moment, and I wanted to share them:
The BC Generations Project is a cancer-prevention project sponsored by the BC Cancer Agency, dedicated to understanding how environment, lifestyle and genes impact cancer rates and other chronic diseases. They’re trying to recruit 40,000 British Columbians (as part of a goal of 300,000 Canadians) between the ages of 35 and 69 (I, ahem, just barely qualify). There are no needles or test tubes involved. They just send you a questionnaire about your health, diet and lifestyle. You fill it out, feel guilty about your answers, and send it back to them.
In light of the hullabaloo about the long-form census, this seems like a small, low-effort way we can contribute to important research.
The fundraiser will involved 40 women – myself included – attempting to break the record in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest hockey game ever played – 10 days of non-stop hockey. We’ll probably be playing in 4 and 6 hour shifts, with 4 hour breaks in between for sleeping/eating
So Beth might be playing 150 hours of hockey over 10 days? That’ll be impressive. It’s all in support of cystic fibrosis research. I encourage you to donate to the cause, and apparently the team is also looking for sponsors for the event.
The other day I saw this neat mapon Reddit. It’s supposed to show movies that best illustrate each of the fifty states.
I got to thinking about how many popular movies have been shot up in Canada. That inspired a map of my own. I tried to select the most culturally important movie for each province. Here’s what I came up with. Click to enlarge:
I tried to view things through the long lens of historical context. Yes, the Twilight movies are more popular than First Blood today. However, I think we’re likelier to have ‘John Rambo’ as a cultural touchstone in 50 years than Edward and Jacob.
This is the second in a series of blog posts in which, well, I learn about things. Previously, I learned about the WNBA.
Yesterday I was invited to a Facebook group entitled “Save the Rifle Registry. No to C-391″. That made me realize how little I actually knew about the Canadian Firearms Registry. I don’t have enough information to know whether it’s a good thing or not. So, let’s learn.
What is the Firearms Registry?
Established in 1996, it’s a program that requires the registration of all firearms in Canada. Interested in getting a gun? According to Wikipedia:
Any person wishing to obtain a firearm must first acquire a Possession and Acquisition Licence or PAL. The PAL carries a fee of $60 for non-restricted, $80 for restricted, and is renewable every five years. Expiry dates are set on the holder’s birthday following the fifth anniversary of the initial issue of the licence
How do you register firearms?
You can do it online, apparently. I can’t get past the first step, as I don’t have any firearms license numbers handy, but it looks straightforward.
Why require citizens to register their firearms?
The big argument that I see again and again is that the registry is a useful asset for police. Police across the country apparently query (PDF) the database more than 13,000 times a week. That number sounds ridiculously high to me (though a CBC article claims it’s used 6,500 times a day), but the RCMP’s site makes similar claims about office safety: “Without a firearms registry, when police are called to a residence or stop a vehicle, they would have to take the word of the occupant whether firearms are present or have been surrendered.”
How much does the registry cost?
This is the big knock against the program. By 2004, eight years after its inception, the total program costs had risen to over $2 billion. Annual operating costs are reportedly anywhere from $15 to $80 million. The Conservative Party of Canada has introduced Bill C-391, a private member’s bill, which aims to eliminate the program. The Conservatives argue that the money spent on the registry could be more effectively spent elsewhere in law enforcement.
The other question, which I was unable to answer, is ‘what percentage of firearms-related crimes involve an unregistered gun?”
So where does that leave us? It’s an expensive but apparently useful program. To be honest, I’m no closer to forming a strong opinion on this one. What do you think?
Earlier this year, Alliance Films released “Polytechnique “, a French-Canadian movie based on the 1989 Montreal Massacre at the Ãƒâ€°cole Polytechnique. Here’s the trailer:
It’s been a busy year, and I’ve been living in indie-film-starved Victoria, but I totally missed this movie. Based on a few reviews and the trailer, I’m sorry to have not seen it in the cinema. Wikipedia indicates that, outside of Quebec, it was released in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. Did anybody see it?
Also, is this the first movie about the Montreal Massacre? It’s interesting that it took 20 years to produce–the incident seems like natural fodder for the docudrama treatment. Consider, by contrast, that we’ve already seen a few (several, even?) 9/11 movies.
One other note: Wikipedia says that “there were two versions of the film produced, one in English and one in French.” I wonder what that means. Did they shoot every scene twice?
Looking at the film’s financials, we see the classic problem of telling Canadian stories to Canadians. “Polytechnique” had a $6 million budget, and box office revenue of only $1.6 million. There’s more money to be made in DVD sales and broadcast rights (or whatever they’re called), but the producers are never going to recoup their costs.
Back then, the headache of a move was only exacerbated by the fact that kids were being yanked out of classes before their school year was up. So on Jan. 1, 1974, a new Quebec law came into effect. It made all leases signed till April 30 of that year valid till June 30. Ever since, moving day in Quebec has been July 1.
For many Quebecois, the least period is always July 1 to June 30. How odd, eh?
There’s actually a pretty good Wikipedia article on this phenomenon. It apparently dates back hundreds of years. In New France it was “a humanitarian measure of the French colonial government of New France, who forbade seigneurs, the semi-feudal landlords of the seigneuries, from evicting their tenant farmers before the winter snows had melted.”
I’m trying to imagine the upsides of this arrangement. There’s plenty of inventory from which to choose if you move in the summer. Of course, if you want to move at any other time of year, your options are far more limited. I learned this from somebody who once lived in Montreal, and he said it was a nightmare. I wonder why the tradition has been so resilient?
The legendary Leonard Cohen is, as you probably know, on tour. He comes to Vancouver on April 19. Today the National Film Board blog features a 45-minute documentary on Cohen from 1965. I haven’t watched much of it yet, but it begins with a charming, funny monologue and, a little later on, has some great insights into the secret joys of hotel rooms:
I was more interested to learn about why there are a bunch of feral horses on this tiny island with a permanent human population of five. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
The first horses on Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada were brought to the island during the late 1700s. Many people believe that they arrived on the island from off of the many shipwrecks, however, this romantic notion is false – they were in fact intentionally left on Sable to graze and multiply, and were most likely seized from Acadians during their expulsion from Nova Scotia at the hands of the British. Although often referred to as ponies due to their small size, they have a horse phenotype.
The whole island is a wildlife preserve, so the animals are left in their natural state. You apparently need special permission from the Canadian Coast Guard to visit.